People have often told me that I seem to always get what I want. I quip back that it’s because I usually want what I get; but there is more to it than that. The more I sharpen my skills at achieving goals and the more I learn how to be more confident, the more prepared I am to get what I want. Read on for some tips to help you get better at getting what you want and feeling confident along the way.
Know what you want, not what you don’t want.
If you decide to go on a vacation but you pull out a map and say, “I don’t want to go to Delaware, I don’t want to go to Wyoming, I don’t want to go to Idaho…” and so on, you will never get anywhere. To make the vacation happen you need to choose where you will go, who you want to go with, how you will get there and other criteria. Research shows that a person is more likely to achieve a goal that is stated in the positive over a goal that is negatively stated.
There are three key questions that you should ask yourself when you are trying to get what you want and feel confident about it. The first question would be, “Is what I want under my control?” What is your sphere of influence with regard to your goal? In couples counseling, I heard one spouse tell me that they wanted their significant other to be more happy. My response was, “You can’t have that.” Sure we all want our loved ones to be happy but we really have no control over their insides. So I asked the person, “What would it do for you if your spouse was more happy?” And the answer surprised them; “I would be more happy.” “Now that is a goal that is within your control,” I replied. Make sure what you want is under your control and that you do not have to rely on anyone else to get it.
The second question is, “How will I know when I achieve this goal?” Make sure this answer is not a fluff answer but one solidly recognizable to your eyes, ears, nose and touch. I once asked a friend who was going through a crisis, “What do you want to have happen through all of this?” They told me, “I want to come out of this a better person.” While it was a worthy goal, it was severely undefined. Better how? Better in what contexts? When could better actually be worse? As I asked these questions and others that put skin on the outcome, he was almost able to taste the final product. As a result, he felt more confident about attaining it.
The third question has to do with ecology. Not the “go green for the planet kind” but a concern for how having this outcome will impact you and those around you. I heard a story about a life coach who was approached by a client just before his skiing trip to Colorado. Her client wanted to learn ways to be more confident as he was skiing. Being “helpful” she pulled out some of the best tricks in her bag so that he would feel confident as he flew down those slick, crisp, white slopes. The problem is, he came back with a broken collar bone and a cracked ankle. He was a novice skier taking on a slope that was beyond his skill level. Unfortunately, he and his life coach did not go over crucial ecology questions that would have revealed that the client first needed to gain competency before he got to feel confidence. Look at the downsides to your outcome and address those before you proceed.
Plan the steps and calculate what they will cost you.
You have heard the cliches no doubt: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Eat an elephant one bite at a time, etc. The truth is, anything is possible when broken down into small enough steps. When you conceptualize the steps to achieving your goal and you think about the resources you will need to get there, you put yourself in a position to take risks that actually make sense. Not only that, you have reduced the fear of the unknown to a controllable volume that will make it a resource for you. Yes, fear is a resource. It causes us to pause and re-think our strategies, our commitment, and our resources. When you deal with the fear, you come out more prepared and confident.
Stay flexible and settle for more than what you wanted.
Flexibility is the key to getting what you want and feeling confident about it. If you have something that you really do want, you know you have the influence to get it, you will recognize it once you have achieved it, it won’t get you into trouble having it, and you have the resources to get it, then you have a green light to throw everything into this goal with one caution–do not get attached to how you achieve it. You may think the final outcome will look exactly like you first imagined it and you will have achieved it exactly according to plan. Not always so. Sometimes the universe has it’s own influence in your plan and you have to adjust the course.
If you run into obstacles, use them as an opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate: Is this outcome worth having? Can I still control it? Do I have enough resources or do I need to go outside of myself for help? Is the goal shaping up differently and is the end product still what I want but in a different form? Am I now aware of consequences to having this goal that I was not aware of before? What will having this outcome do for me? If after these questions you still have a green light, it is worthwhile to push forward through the obstacle with confidence and tenacity. If you cannot answer all of them to your satisfaction it may be a sign to start all over with a new outcome at a different level.